The Acting Secretary of State to the British Ambassador (Spring Rice)

My dear Mr. Ambassador: The positive declaration by your Government that they will not seize shipments of cotton as contraband has relieved the tension which has prevailed among the American planters and shippers due to a feeling of apprehension and uncertainty as to the British policy.

I desire now to call your attention to certain other commodities produced in our Southern States, as to which there appears to be the same anxiety as there was in regard to cotton. These products are turpentine and rosin, which have the misleading trade term of “naval stores.” It would be a great satisfaction if you could obtain from your Government as clear a statement of the immunity of these products from seizure as they were good enough to make in regard to cotton.

Neither in the lists of absolute or conditional contraband proclaimed by your Government nor in the proposed lists, which have [Page 299]been communicated to this Department, do I find either turpentine or rosin.

I know that you appreciate the desirability of allaying the apprehension which prevails as to certain articles of trade which this country wishes to export to Europe and which seem to possess no qualities making them contraband. However groundless such apprehension may be, it is well to quiet it by assurances which can leave no doubt of the intention of your Government.

If you can take this matter up with London, it will be a service to this Government in relieving a situation which is growing daily more embarrassing.

I am [etc.]

Robert Lansing